Monday, June 12, 2017

Darla - an art on canvas

I am going to talk about Darla, a village under Chukha dzongkhag. This wide valley is about five miles south of Gedu. As we travel between Thimphu and Phuentsholing, we see Darla always being clouded with dark dense fog, or rather receiving rain.

“What a boring place to live?” the commuters say, almost contemptuously.

And they wonder, “I wonder this place ever receives sunlight!”

Three months ago, I had an official work at Gedu and my colleagues and I decided to visit Darla. Frankly speaking, I was not at all excited about the visit. For I thought this place was no fun. Moreover, I heard it was infected with deadly snakes and leeches. And in some strange ways, I was little nervous.   

However, office work is office work. You like it or not, you have to go and do it. Initially, I decided not to carry camera with me because I thought what would I shoot under those fog and rain. And I was not interested to take pictures of those snakes and leeches. Seriously.

In the end, I took it. And I didn’t regret my decision.
It was early evening when we arrived at Darla. The sky above, then, was just open and this was the first time I could see entire texture of the valley. It amazed me thoroughly, and I fell in love with her instantly.

Putting on quite the expression of a joyful lover, I looked upon her, sincerely, with utmost admiration. Over the overcast of awfully gorgeous blue sky, a few lines of cumulous clouds spread like strokes of fine paintbrush. The sun was just setting and patterns of its rays shining through the clouds were making on the valley. It appeared to me like the Almighty above was just blessing it. 
Darla was a vast stretch of country, which was inhibited by over 670 Ngalong and Lhotsham households. Different shapes and colours of houses were scattered all over with mountains on the opposite. Exceptionally tall and giant dark woods grew abundantly, and broadleaf grass and cardamom plants in deep green tenderly blanketed surface of the valley.

Right between it meandered the dwindling road, and this nice blacktop road was interestingly bendy, yes, exactly like the shape of a snake. And we rode down in snaking movement. This ride was strangely joyous; indeed it’s one of the most thrilling rides of my life.
I dropped my luggage in my room at guesthouse and then I rushed out again because I didn't want to miss the beauty outside. I walked on the road keenly watching the wonderful landscape of Darla and the cumulous clouds that hung in the sky. And also feeling the pleasant odour of the trees that were just bursting into leaf. It felt like I was in the company of a beautiful woman.
On the road, I came across a group of countrywomen with spades in their hands. They were just returning from their farm, from their daylong hard labour. 

“Kuzu Zangpo la!” I greeted them.

They responded me promptly, “Kuzu la.”

“I am scouting your village,” I said smiling and added matter-of-factly, “Your village is very beautiful. I am already loving it here very much.”
Las la. Lopoen, where are you from?” the oldest woman, supposedly in her 40s, from the group asked me.

I said I came from Thimphu.

“Thank you for liking it here. Darla hardly opens up. But when it does, it’s beautiful.” she said. 

They left, and I resumed walking. 
Gradually the evening grew deeper, and I grew more fascinated. To put it more accurately, I was bewitched. The sky had turned absolutely magnificent maroon, ember, and there was something so evocative about the myriad ways the clouds play in the sky. 
“It can’t be real,” I said to myself. 

It's like I was looking at a brilliant art on canvas. And I fell in love more. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do I do when I do visit Sherubtse

I am envy of my friends. When I tell them, “Hey, I am going to Sherubtse College”, or “I am at Kanglung,” they just can’t believe me. They simply wish to be at the “Peak of Learning”. The truth is that Kanglung has become engraved in our hearts. And we love it. Dearly. Deeply.  
“If SherCol were a girl, no matter what, I would have married it already,” a friend of mine stated to me a few months back.

In fact, he meant it. And he meant it seriously. I can read his mind quite well. For Kanglung was absolutely ravishing, elegant, romantic and strangely mysterious. And I think there are none who didn’t fall for her. 
Today, after 10 years, it still makes me giddy with a great pride and delight just to say that I’m an ex-Sherubtsean. In fact, all of us keep albums, and college photos inside. When we meet in Thimphu or elsewhere, we leaf through the albums, talk nonstop about the college recollecting those golden days. That’s how much we love her.

So to say, I was at the college about a month ago. As usual, I was supercharged, super excited. As I stepped inside her, I couldn’t really believe that it has been already a decade that I had left the place, graduated from this place. I missed her terribly.   

So many things about her have been transformed. New footpaths have been made around the campus, several new building structures have been erected and the football field is undergoing a major transformation.
Besides, everything is same. The same old jumbo gate still stands majestically in front of the college. Those monstrous-size dormitories still house young college inhabitants. The red and maroon colour academic blocks still retain those unusually huge and gothic windows. The clock tower is still standing tall, which reminds me of classic fairy tales and magic.

So what I did when I am at the college, and here are they:

Baley and bonda: The first thing that I did in Kanglung was I visited NP Restaurant. I ordered two pieces of baleys and ate quite avidly. This is what I used to have with my college mates back in those days. Quite surprisingly, the baleys still retain the same old taste, smell, colour and shape. This is quite amazing. This is quite delicious.
And I marched into Sangrila, a GREF canteen. I munched on bonda and nimki with hot Indian tea. I felt so nice. In fact, this is the place we used to go eat when our wallet was thin. 
Library: The library of Sherubtse is one of the largest in the country. Besides the national library of Bhutan, it possesses the biggest book of the world. The two-storey library is quite rich with thousands of books and I felt so nice to see the students browsing, reading books. But what I like most about this place is its collection of classic literature and novels.

Tower: Sitting on a hilltop and watching the clock tower is another thing that I love to do. It stands absolutely majestic and alluring. The sight gives me an eerily gothic feeling, yet very beautifully enchanting one.
Pangthang: This place, about 5 km away from the college campus, is spectacular. I absolutely love the place - beautiful plain surrounded by rich forests, rice fields, and chorten. And the sunset here is just magnificent.
Kanglung Zangdopelri: The Zangdopelri, seated next to the college, is a beautiful and serene paradise. This temple had a special relationship with the college, where the college students used to teach English language to the monks and the monks would perform rimdro for the college.  
Talk show: During my last visit, I’ve delivered a talk on media to a group of Media Studies students and life at Sherubtse during my time a decade ago. I shared my memories of SherCol - about Introductory Nite, Blind Date, Ragging, Kanglung gi tsharim, etc, which are mostly disallowed today.

I always thought that the story of my life at Sherubtse was over the moment I had graduated. But walking around the campus and looking at the young aspiring buddies, and sharing my experience with them makes me feel that there’s more to life here, there’s more to give back to the place that had nurtured me. And it makes me feel truly complete.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Tower

One thing that is exceptionally grandiose about Sherubtse College in Kanglung is its tower. Tall, giant and handsome, it stands absolutely majestic and alluring. Every time I visit here, its sight gives me an eerily gothic feeling, yet beautifully enchanting one. And I think of those fairytales I had read during my childhood - of Rapunzel, of Cindrella.

How mesmerizing! How bewitching!

This is one reason that this college in the far east is so engraved in my heart, and I am quite sure nothing can erase those memories spent, made in the “Peak of Learning”.

So after 10 years, I could make it to the college again and this time I am lucky that I got more time to stay here. Here are some photographs of the tower I took.

Pic: The Tower against the full moon
Pic: As the college football field undergoing artificial turfing, basketball seems main athletic event
And the college's magazine is called "The Tower"

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trashigang through my digital lens

Trashigang Town
Woesel Choling Monastery in Rangjung: Blessed to see it again and again
Yonphula: The place I started loving after I listened to "Yonphula ley eto meto" song by Misty Terrace
Wamrong Town
Khaling: One of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan
Almost an entire valley of empty beer bottles. Sharchops can really drink
A brokpa lady: Brokpas come lower hills of Trashigang with their cattle during winter

Sherubtse College: The college that produced most of the Bhutanese high officials in the govt., corporation and business
Sports complex: A place where most youth spend their leisure time
Changjiji colony: There really is a place called Changjiji complex in Trashigang
Surprisingly, you get to watch wonderful sunsets in Trashigang